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DEA Targets Landlords to Shut Down Dispensaries
19 DECEMBER 2007 - Drug Policy Alliance

The Drug Enforcement Administration's six-month-old surge against medical marijuana in California continues to ramp up with new threats to northern California dispensaries.

Two weeks ago the San Francisco DEA office "leaked" to Matier and Ross, columnists at the San Francisco Chronicle, that they would send forfeiture threat letters to the landlords of all the Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (MCDs) in northern California.  This tactic has been successful in southern California, where dozens of MCDs closed over the summer after the DEA threatened their landlords with the loss of their property--and even jail time!

San Francisco has 28 dispensaries going through the permit process.  So far, nine dispensaries in San Francisco have reported receiving the letter.  By the end of this week, we expect that all Bay Area MCDs will be under threat of eviction.

U.S. Rep. John Conyers, the House Judiciary Committee Chair, responded in Washington, DC, last Friday night with this statement:

"I am deeply concerned about recent reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration is threatening private landlords with asset forfeiture and possible imprisonment if they refuse to evict organizations legally dispensing medical marijuana to suffering patients.  The Committee has already questioned the DEA about its efforts to undermine California state law on this subject and we intend to sharply question this specific tactic as part of our oversight efforts."

The DEA's actions call for a coordinated response to this latest attempt to destroy safe access to medicine in San Francisco and California. The Drug Policy Alliance, Americans for Safe Access, Marijuana Policy Project and California NORML are working on a coalition to make the strongest impact and stop the deterioration of safe access across the state.
Our immediate goal is to have San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom take a public stand supporting medical marijuana and Rep. Conyers, and opposing the DEA's gross intimidation tactics and its overall surge (over 50 MCDs raided this year--more than three times last year's total).


San Francisco Residents: Call Email or Fax Mayor Gavin Newsom!

Telephone: (415) 554-6141
Fax: (415) 554-6160
Email: gavin.newsom at sfgov dot org

Sample Phone Script:

Hello, my name is _______________.  I am a San Francisco resident [and a medical cannabis patient].  Please tell Mayor Newsom that I am concerned about the threatening letters sent to landlords of dispensaries in the city.  I respectfully ask that he make a public statement in support of dispensaries and their landlords and urge Congressman Conyers and Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold hearings on the raids in medical cannabis states.  Thank you."

Sample Email/Fax:

December 19, 2007

The Honorable Gavin Newsom
City Hall, Room 200
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Dear Mayor Newsom,

The San Francisco Chronicle reported the intention by the Drug Enforcement Agency to send letters to property owners who lease to medical cannabis dispensaries in San Francisco threatening arrest and asset forfeiture.  This is a grave menace to the medical cannabis patients and their source of safe and legal access to their medicine.  We write to you to express concern and ask for your support as our City's leader.

During the drafting of the Medical Cannabis Act, you demonstrated your support for safe access to medical cannabis by convening a working group of city officials to review the City's policies.  We thank you for this act of support for the regulations process, patients, and the legality of medical cannabis dispensaries.  In light of the difference between Federal and California law, it takes strong leadership to take such a step in representation of the City.

It is clear that, although appreciated, support by the Board of Supervisors in the form of a resolution will not suffice in preventing the closure of City's legal medical cannabis dispensaries.  As the official head of this great City, it is your voice that the Federal government must hear in defense of the regulation process, which your guidance helped to create.  Thus, we urge you to make a public statement in support of the legality of dispensaries, the regulation process, and landlords who lease to legal businesses in the City and County of San Francisco.

In addition, we appeal to the infallible sense of civic duty you have exemplified in challenging the Federal Government on the issues of same-sex marriage and immigration.  As in those issues, there is a broad level of support for dispensaries as a model for safe and legal access to medical cannabis.  The residents and city officials of San Francisco have a history of voting in favor of laws protecting safe access to medical cannabis.  Thus, we ask that you also urge Congressman Conyers and Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold stand alone Congressional hearings on raids in medical cannabis states.

Please heed the call of the City's most vulnerable and vocal community.


[Your Name Here]

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